U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters carried 9.8 million tons of dry-bulk cargo in October, an increase of 14.4 percent compared to a year ago, according to the Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA).
The total was slightly ahead of October’s long-term average, but 1 percent below the 9.9 million tons the fleet moved in September, the association noted. LCA represents 17 American companies that operate 57 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes.
U.S.-flag lakers moved 4.4 million tons of iron ore in October, 73.7 percent of all the ore moving on the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway that month. The 4.4 million tons represent a 15.8-percent increase over a year ago, and a 5.1-percent increase compared to October’s long-term average.
Coal shipments in U.S. hulls totaled 2.1 million tons in October, 75.2 percent of all coal moving on the Lakes that month. The 2.1 million tons represent an increase of 96,000 tons compared to a year ago, but are 7.4-percent below the month’s long-term average.
The 2.7 million tons of limestone hauled by U.S.-flag lakers in October represent 74.7 percent of the Great Lakes trade in that commodity that month. The 2.7 million tons are nearly 20-percent ahead of last year and on par with the month’s long-term average, LCA said.
“When making comparisons with a year ago, it must be remembered that U.S.-flag lakers lost approximately 2,000 hours waiting out the storms that accompanied Hurricane Sandy,” the association said.
Through October, the U.S.-flag float stands at 73.3 million tons, an increase of 1.2 percent compared to a year ago. Iron ore cargoes are up by 93,000 tons, while coal loadings rose 4.9 percent. Shipments of limestone are now within 170,000 tons of last year’s total through October.
With only two months left in the shipping season, U.S. Great Lakes ports are scrambling to move as much cargo as possible — both from U.S.-flag and foreign-flag vessels.
“The Seaway’s principal commodities — iron ore, coal and grain — helped move the scales in the right direction for cargo tonnage handled on the Great Lakes-Seaway System,” said Rebecca Spruill, director of trade development at the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., in a statement. “Although the bi-national waterway figures are still below last year’s levels, we’re seeing solid evidence that the final two months of the 2013 navigation season will be extremely busy for our shipping industry.”
For the second month in a row, the Port of Cleveland reported an increase in general cargo tonnage. The increase for October was up 20 percent (50,100 metric tons) compared to October 2012. To date, the port has moved 307,000 metric tons of cargo through its general cargo operation. This represents more than a 20-percent increase over the 2012 annual tonnage level, when the port moved 250,000 metric tons across its docks.
The Port of Duluth set a record in October with a special heavy-lift cargo. On Oct. 14, the port received four German-built electrical transformers, each weighing close to 300 tons, headed for Alberta, Canada, as part of a major power transmission line project that will run from north of Edmonton to south of Calgary.
The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor saw a 16-percent increase in total tonnage through the month of October marking it the sixth consecutive month of increased shipments for the port this year.